In the second round of the 2020 NFL draft, situated at pick 37, fans of the New England Patriots eagerly await which player would be the first selection for the team out of the newest crop of young talent. Finally, after months of anticipation following a rough offseason, Belichek’s choice is confirmed by the earnest voice of commissioner Roger Goodell- New England would choose Kyle Dugger, safety from Lenior Rhyne University.
Fans and media outlets alike soon became taken aback with the decision. After trading out of the first round, their team would decide upon a relatively unknown division two player? Had Bill Belichek finally gone crazy?
These skeptics fail to see why Dugger is more significant of a pick then they think. Dugger’s defensive versatility in college was utilized in an array of positions. As a linebacker, free safety, strong safety, and even a cornerback in some sets, the 220 pounder racked up a total of 237 tackles, 1o interceptions, and 6 forced fumbles/recoveries over an outstanding four years.
All this, despite missing a majority of his senior season due to an injury Although projected to play as a safety, Dugger’s multifaceted playstyle could be the key to fill the holes left by the recent departures of Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins.
Furthermore, his rap sheet doesn’t even end on the off-ball side of his game. Dugger’s tremendous speed and dexterity were utilized as a punt returner, where he was able to return a total of 67 punts for an impressive 929 yards and 6 touchdowns. Simply put, Dugger’s all-around talent and ability to adapt are largely unheard of for a defensive back.
Dugger still has a long way to go. His success would certainly push the status quo of drafting big name, division one players. From being the fastest and strongest player on the field and easily ripping the ball away from his opponents on highlight reels, the NFL will pose a challenge like no other. However, with the wisdom of the Patriots coaching staff, and the support of the great New England defensive system, he should mature into a formidable contender.
Photo: CBS Boston